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“You had lies before...”
Being in an abusive marriage just killed me. It killed my soul, my spirit.
Nothing was ever good enough. I’m a really good cook, but there was always something wrong with the food. The house was never up to par. If I tried something, it would be: “Why are you trying that? You’ll never accomplish that. You’ll never amount to anything” Just one thing after another. At my lowest point, I remember thinking, “Why am I even living?” I just felt like I was a shell. I didn’t know who Stephanie was anymore.
I prepared to leave over a six-month period. I had left twice before, about seven or eight years ago. But I came to a point where I decided I’d had enough. I just remember having a feeling in my stomach: “This is it. I’m done.” The last time I left, he got very agitated, so I wanted to be in the shelter to be safe.
The counsellors told me about a microloan program, and I used that loan to pay first and last month’s rent - without it I would not have the place I have now.
When I first moved out on my own, it was really hard to get those internal messages to disappear.
One of my friends had sent me emails as I was going through the process of leaving. They all said things like: You can do this! You’re a wonderful woman! You have all kinds of potential! You’re an incredible friend! You are out of this world! You’re a star player!
So I typed up those words, laminated them, and put them on my bathroom mirror. I would be brushing my teeth or washing my face and that is what I would see. And whenever I was low, I would go in the bathroom and say them out loud. And that’s what got me through.
Those words are still on my mirror. I’ll probably have to take them down some time, but for now they’re still there.
You have to put those messages out there. You had lies before – now you need the truth.
*Update: “I survived that. Surely I can do this”
For Stephanie, leaving an abusive relationship was the most difficult thing she’s ever done. But it also showed her how much she’s capable of. And she continues to draw on that strength to face the new obstacles that come up in her life.
“I tell myself, ‘I did that. I survived that. Surely I can do this.’ ”
When Stephanie first shared her story, it was a few years after she had left her marriage. One of the services that helped her start over was a microloan program that was supported by the Canadian Women’s Foundation.
“The loan gave me a leg up when I was at a very vulnerable point in my life. It was a tool that helped me live independently.” Stephanie used the money to cover her first and last month’s rent for a new home.It eased her transition from a women’s shelter into the long-term housing that she needed to move forward with her life.
Stephanie decided she wanted to help motivate other women in their own journeys, so she became certified as a life coach and wrote a motivational book. But then, life threw in a few more curveballs.
A few years ago, Stephanie underwent an emergency surgery that involved about a year of recovery. Just as she was getting back on her feet, she was in a car accident that has left her with chronic pain.
“As much as I wanted to be positive all the time, my body defied me. I slipped into depression, and basic things took me a long time to accomplish.” The health care professionals she was seeing for treatment knew her story and helped her re-focus. “They would say, ‘Stephanie, you know it’s in you. You need to draw on that.’ ”
She also decided that a healthy dose of humour would help. She put herself on a “laughter diet”, setting aside time each day to watch funny videos. As she began feeling more like herself, she also started using an app to remind her of positive affirmations and goals throughout the day.
“The words really, really matter—they become matter,” Stephanie says. “I’ve been at the depths of despair because of my words, and I’ve been exceptionally happy because of my words.”
While she’s still recovering from the car accident, she’s turning her attention back to motivating others. Stephanie is now working on finishing a second book and re-branding her coaching services under the name “Fabulous Femes.”
She wants to connect with other women through podcasts and blogging, aiming to empower them to reach their goals. “Fabulous Femes will be a sisterhood for women who have done it for everyone else, and now it’s their season to shine.”
Stephanie Titus-Andrews, Speaker, Author, Recovery Coach
Participant, December 6 Fund - A Canadian Women’s Foundation- funded program